Should we continue to indicate meglumine antimoniate as first-line treatment for cutaneous leishmaniasis in Tunisia


Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Rym Benmously Mlika, MD, Senior Professor, Dermatology Department, Habib Thameur Hospital, Ali Ben Ayed Street, N°8, 1008 Montfleury, Tunis, Tunisia, and Faculty of Medicine, University of Tunis, El Manar, Tunisia, or email:


Meglumine antimoniate compounds have been the mainstay of treatment for cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) for decades. We propose to evaluate the place of these drugs in this indication in Tunisia. We retrospectively reviewed medical records of 67 patients treated for (CL) using meglumine antimoniate at a dose of 20 mg/kg/day for 15 day from 1998 to 2010. Clinical and laboratory data, tolerance, and outcome were precised. Side effects were recorded in 17 among 67 patients (25%). The average age was 44.4 years (2–86 years). Antimony intolerance events occurred in 11 patients, stibio-intoxication events in nine cases, and the both type of antimony adverse effects were observed in three patients. Fever was the most frequent complication of antimony intolerance (five cases), followed by cough (three cases), rash (two cases), injection site erythema (two cases), musculoskeletal pain (one case), asthenia (one case), and vomiting (one case). Signs of stibio-intoxication were asymptomatic elevation of amylase level (four cases), hepatic cytolysis (three cases), hematologic toxicity (three cases), and acute toxic kidney failure (one case). Meglumine antimoniate was stopped in 13 cases. Systemic administration of pentavalent antimonials in the treatment of CL has been associated with severe adverse effects. CL observed in Tunisia is a self-healing dermatosis that never induces sequela; therefore, other therapies such as topical treatment or cryotherapy should be considered.